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Monthly Archives: January 2017

4 Strategies to Build Audience Engagement

No matter what industry your business falls under, engaging a targeted audience is critical. Whether it’s prospecting for new leads or communicating with previous clients, audience participation keeps your brand fresh in customers’ minds.

Engagement can mean a lot of different numbers, such as page views, email opens or Twitter interactions. While you don’t need to analyze every single metric, you should focus on specific measurements that work toward achieving an established goal. Business News Daily spoke with some communication experts about digital strategies to help small businesses get started.

Audience engagement is a key part of marketing, and with any advertising campaign, you need to understand your target audience. Who follows your brand? Who would you like to follow your brand?

“Sometimes your current audience is different from the group you originally wanted to communicate with,” explains Chevon Drew, senior communications manager at Race Forward and Color Lines.

“A business can manufacture and market baby wipes to parents for five years, experience an increase in sales and attribute it to parents wanting more wipes when it truly could have meant their audience changed from solely parents to parents and the limitless numbers of people now using wipes to remove makeup in the era of Instagram,” she added. “That’s an example I fabricated, but it illustrates the thinking behind doing less assuming and more surveying.”

Depending on how big a business is, the marketing and communication departments can be completely separate. However, they should always meet when discussing revenue generation.

“It’s important to make sure that your audience engagement initiatives align with your company’s overall goals,” explained Elizabeth Riley Boyer, director of marketing and communications at ThinkCERCA.

She recommends following the OKR framework, which is an acronym used by Google, Intel and other major corporations. OKR stands for company “Objectives” and measurable “Key Results.” Each objective should align with a company’s mission and values, and each key result identifies a way employees can work together to reach an objective.

“For nearly all businesses, you probably have some sort of revenue metric that you’re tracking,” Riley Boyer added. “At ThinkCERCA, we have some great data on platform usage leading to great student achievement results, which, in turn, leads to increased customer renewals and expansions. So my team is currently looking at launching and growing engagement initiatives that support increased platform usage among teachers and students.”

An average day for Drew involves tracking which links receive the most retweets from Twitter and shares on Facebook and analyzing open rates for their organization’s email marketing lists.

That’s why Christina Ochoa, social media strategist and founder of The Social Butterfly Gal, recommends hiring a tailored professional, well versed in the online realm. To best serve her clients, she uses analytics and powerful visuals to market on Instagram.

“Digital strategy can be time consuming and overwhelming,” she said. “Small business owners should hire someone who knows the digital world, can respond in a timely matter and [be] one [who] isn’t afraid to try new things when it comes to strategy or content.”

However, since social media is accessible to the public, an experienced professional doesn’t have to already work in the industry. Their own following and content can show how well (or not) they grab an audience.

Digital media is constantly changing. It was only last year that Instagram offered the analytics feature to any business account. Fortunately, it’s easy to carry out experiments, because posting a tweet takes a matter of seconds.

“Our audience engagement editor is constantly testing subject lines and [the] best times of day to send a tweet,” Riley Boyer said.

Plus, it’s easy to get wrapped up in what a brand should sound like and lose your unique voice. Sounding overly promotional makes content feel less relatable. Especially when a company first starts out, you’ll need to develop your voice over time.
“Too many feel social media needs to be so straightforward,” Ochoa added. “Don’t be afraid to be real. That’s how people will feel connected to you and want to follow you!”

Healthy Workplace Conflict Can Help Your Business Grow

The world is rife with conflict, from terrorism to Facebook fights, so it may seem wise to try to remove conflict from our places of employment. Eliminating conflict may make for a more peaceful workplace, but it can ultimately hurt a business’s growth.

“When conflict exists, it generally indicates commitment to organizational goals, because the players are trying to come up with the best solution,” wrote productivity expert Laura Stack in an Aviation Pros article. “This, in turn, promotes challenge, heightens individual regard to the issues and increases effort. This type of conflict is necessary. Without it, an organization will stagnate.”

It fosters creativity. Stephen Hecht, co-author of “Nonflict: The Art of Everyday Peacemaking” (Two Harbors Press, 2016), calls it the co-creative process, where the disagreeing parties come together to find a solution that meets everyone’s needs. This involves understanding each other’s needs and then imagining together the best-case scenario and determining how to meet that vision.

“Most people define conflict with a negative connotation, but conflict is when two different ideas come into contact with each other,” Hecht said. “If you deal with conflict in a constructive way, there is opportunity.”

It encourages a deeper investigation of the issues. “Because the disagreement was expressed, a more thorough investigation will be conducted,” Stack wrote. “When the group makes a decision, it will be based on additional information that probably wouldn’t have been obtained had the conflict not occurred.”

It can signal unclear guidelines. When the goals or procedures are not clear, employees may conflict with each other under the honest assumption that their way is the correct one.

“A major cause of workplace flare ups is lack of role clarity,” wrote Mark Schnurman in NJ.com. “Take the time up front to clarify expectations. A brief conversation initially can save a lot of time and angst later.”

It may signal that people feel underappreciated. Producer Sylvie Peltier, president of Red Letter Films, said that oftentimes in her industry, conflict comes from people’s unmet need to be heard and appreciated. She finds this especially true for people who are hired in for a specific project.

“If you are able to acknowledge their strengths and make them feel appreciated, they’ll play nice with the rest of the team,” she said.

Not all conflict is going to be good, of course, and there are times when a leader has to be a parent, said Brit Poulson, psychologist, leadership development expert and author of “The Clarity Compass” (Vision Creation Inc., 2017). Take initiative and directly address the issue if it gets too heated among your team.

“Step into the role of authority the employees need you to take,” he said.

Here are a few things you can do to resolve “bad” conflicts and reduce the occurrence of unhealthy conflict in the future.

Hire the right people. Sometimes conflict comes from personalities that don’t mix. “There’s not a lot you can do to change people’s egos,” Peltier said. “In the short term, you can only do damage control, but in the long term, don’t keep those people on the team.”

Give everyone a voice. Poulson noted that while not every idea is the right one for the company to run with, even seemingly “bad” ideas can spark creativity that results in new suggestions that will work.

Understand the parties involved. To handle conflict constructively, some thought must be given to the person’s background, how they communicate and their particular approach to the problem. This framework can help you better understand and address their position.

6 Android Apps to Plan Your Workday

Calendar: aCalendar (Free)

The innocuously named aCalendar might be the best overall calendar app for business users on the Android platform, striking a great balance between ease of use and powerful features. The app hits all the basics, making it easy to toggle between day, week, month and year views, and it has plenty of options to set reminders and notifications for important engagements. But it also offers a slew of business features, like the ability to schedule a meeting and invite meeting attendees straight from the app.

Wunderlist (Free)

Wunderlist can help make sure that your best ideas don’t slip away. It’s a powerful to-do-list app that lets you quickly jot down ideas and agenda items so you don’t forget them. You can add text and attach photos, PDFs and presentations with a few taps. Plus, there’s a handy folder system to help keep projects separated. Even better, you can share you lists with colleagues for easy collaboration.

Day Planner: Jorte Calendar & Organizer (Free)

As a full calendar application, Jorte trails Business Calendar in overall design and ease of use. But for business users seeking an application to keep track of daily tasks, Jorte might come out on top. What makes this calendar app stand out is the ability to tap any day of the month and view your full agenda for the day at the bottom of the screen, without navigating away from the main calendar view. The feature lets you easily browse your daily schedules over multiple days quickly and easily. Overall, Jorte is a solid calendar app for Android devices that syncs with Google Calendar and lets you view and tweak your schedule in a variety of ways, set reminders and more.

Smart Calendar: Any.Do Cal (Free)

Any.Do Cal builds on the basic calendar app concept, but adds extra context to your events by pulling in information from your contacts list, maps app and more. For example, when scheduling a meeting or appointment, you can add contacts from your phone’s address book to the event. That lets you easily send out invitations and reminders via text or email. Or if you’re running late on the day of the meeting, you can fire off a message to let them know. Any.Do Cal can also access your smartphone’s GPS sensor so you can input the location of a meeting or event. Then when it’s time to go, you can access turn-by-turn directions with a single tap. In other words, the app streamlines the process of planning and attending meetings, making it a boon for busy business users. It also syncs with the original Any.Do app, which lets you create short- and long-term to-do lists.

Project Manager: Wrike (Free)

Wrike can help you get projects off the ground and see them through to the end. The project management app makes it easy to create a new project and assign team members with a few taps. From there, you can create, assign and schedule smaller tasks, and send and receive messages through Wrike’s built-in inbox. Other perks include the ability to attach images and files to your project right from your phone via cloud storage platforms like Google Drive or DropBox, or straight from your phone’s storage. Other quality-of-life perks include a daily checklist so you can make sure to stay on track.

Personal assistant: Google Now (Free)

Google Now isn’t exactly an app. Instead, the software is baked into the operating system of all newer Android smartphones; to access it, tap and hold the home button on your smartphone, then drag your finger up to the Google logo. It’s essentially an intelligent personal assistant designed to know what you need before you ask for it. The service works by monitoring your activity within the Google ecosystem and pushing relevant notifications to you as they’re detected. The service can notify you of traffic delays, flight delays, weather, upcoming appointments, package shipment information and much more. It’s more powerful than other notification services because of its tight integration with Google search and your existing Gmail and Google Calendar accounts. The information provided by Google Now can help business users handle unforeseen delays as well as planned appointments.

5 iPhone Apps to Manage Your Business Contacts

Simpler Pro Smart Contacts (Free)

Your iPhone comes with a stock address book, but why settle for that? Simper Pro Smart Contacts is a better way to keep track of your business contacts. It offers powerful search capabilities, letting you find contacts even if you can’t remember their names. The app will also help you clean up your contacts list, with the ability to purge old contacts, and clean up duplicate items in your address book. Plus, you can back up your contacts to Dropbox or Google Drive with one tap.

Apps to plan your workday

Are you busy running your small business? Juggling dozens of daily tasks isn’t easy. A wall calendar and a pen-and-paper to-do list can help, but there’s a smarter way to plan your workday: By using your Android smartphone. With the right apps you can plan your day, week, month or year – and really get things done. Whether you need to remember an appointment next month, or a business call later today, there’s an app for you. Your Android phone comes with a basic calendar app out of the box, which integrates with Google Calendar and lets you schedule appointments, set reminders and jot down a basic to-do list. But the stock Calendar app can’t do it all. Other apps have more options and deeper functionality to help you stay on top of things. Here are five of the best.

Day Planner: Jorte Calendar & Organizer (Free)

As a full calendar application, Jorte trails Business Calendar in overall design and ease of use. But for business users seeking an application to keep track of daily tasks, Jorte might come out on top. What makes this calendar app stand out is the ability to tap any day of the month and view your full agenda for the day at the bottom of the screen, without navigating away from the main calendar view. The feature lets you easily browse your daily schedules over multiple days quickly and easily. Overall, Jorte is a solid calendar app for Android devices that syncs with Google Calendar and lets you view and tweak your schedule in a variety of ways, set reminders and more.

Project Manager: Wrike (Free)

Wrike can help you get projects off the ground and see them through to the end. The project management app makes it easy to create a new project and assign team members with a few taps. From there, you can create, assign and schedule smaller tasks, and send and receive messages through Wrike’s built-in inbox. Other perks include the ability to attach images and files to your project right from your phone via cloud storage platforms like Google Drive or DropBox, or straight from your phone’s storage. Other quality-of-life perks include a daily checklist so you can make sure to stay on track.

Smart Calendar: Any.Do Cal (Free)

Any.Do Cal builds on the basic calendar app concept, but adds extra context to your events by pulling in information from your contacts list, maps app and more. For example, when scheduling a meeting or appointment, you can add contacts from your phone’s address book to the event. That lets you easily send out invitations and reminders via text or email. Or if you’re running late on the day of the meeting, you can fire off a message to let them know. Any.Do Cal can also access your smartphone’s GPS sensor so you can input the location of a meeting or event. Then when it’s time to go, you can access turn-by-turn directions with a single tap. In other words, the app streamlines the process of planning and attending meetings, making it a boon for busy business users. It also syncs with the original Any.Do app, which lets you create short- and long-term to-do lists.